Sage Treharne Jones, Female Homesteader

Sage Treharne Jones was many things before she turned to homesteading— immigrant, teacher, wife, mother, widow, and postmistress. Efficient and industrious, Sage embodied characteristics necessary to thrive on Utah frontiers in the 19th century.

In 1849, Sage Treharne migrated from Wales to the United States after being taught by Mormon missionaries. She faced cholera and smallpox along the way and watched both her parents die. She continued west, travelling with a Greene family. On her way, Sage met Thomas Jones and, upon arriving in Utah in October 1852, the two were married. Following demand for iron workers, or possibly answering a call from church leaders, Sage and Thomas moved to Southern Utah. When the iron works were discontinued in 1858, the family turned completely to farming and livestock. In 1860, they built a small adobe house in Cedar City. Thomas developed rheumatism which grew increasingly worse, disabling him until his death in September 1862.

Sage was left a widow with six living children under the age of eight. She turned to sewing to make a livelihood and depended on her farm to raise the necessary crops and livestock. She is described as an independent woman and “determined to give her children all the advantages that could be had.” “Never ashamed of how little they had,” Sage raised her family to be hardworking and proud of their heritage. Life was difficult, but growing children stepped up, taking over the farm work, and the Jones received support from their neighbors when needed. When harvests failed, the community came together, sharing what little they had and “in their kindness to one another, they found their greatest joy.”

Her oldest sons, Lehi and Kumen, acquired a contract delivering mail and freight along Pony Express routes and Sage assumed the role of postmistress. “Without ever a word of complaint,” she was a firm supporter of the boys in their position. The mail contract continued with younger sons and nephews continuing to deliver until 1876. In 1885, Sage was appointed as the postmistress of Cedar City. In this new role and with the help of her children, Sage learned to write English. She kept the post office for thirteen years.

In 1895, at age 62, Sage filed for a homestead on two land sections in Cedar Canyon, near the intersection of Moots Hollow. With her children largely established and self-reliant, it seems she filed hoping to acquire more land for her family. Soon after, she received her US citizenship. One year after becoming a citizen and before she could legally acquire the deed to her claim, Sage died. The property defaulted to her heirs several years after her death. Sage was an active member of her community and Relief Society. A dignified woman, she “was respected and loved wherever she went.” Sage was not a homesteader, at least initially, in the traditional sense of filing on a claim, but she certainly worked hard, sought independence, and “learned to love the wild country of the West.”

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